TORONTO - Sidney Crosby hopes that his club's quick start to this season will help them forget about last year's struggles.
Pittsburgh's captain delivered on Saturday night with a goal and two assists as the Penguins cruised to a 5-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Crosby now has three goals and three assists in the first two games of the season — both victories for the Penguins. It's his best start since the 2011-12 season when he had seven points through the first three games of the season.
Part of Crosby's motivation is how things ended last season.
Pittsburgh lost in seven games in the Eastern Conference semifinals to the New York Rangers. As a result, general manager, Ray Shero, and head coach, Dan Bylsma, were let go in the off-season.
"It's always important, I think. You come in with the mentality that you want to start quick, get some momentum, get some confidence," said Crosby of his team's 11 goals scored through two games. "(We) had a long summer, had a lot of time to think about last year, we're all pretty excited to get started.
"I think everybody's excited to get started, but it's nice to see it translate into a couple wins."
Penguins' assistant general manager, Bill Guerin, has seen significant change in Crosby's on-ice demeanor.
"I think he controls his emotions a lot more," said Guerin. "I think he's really brought a calming affect to the room."
Watching from up top, Guerin has a fonder appreciation for his former teammate.
"Just how well he sees the ice, little things he does so he can make those plays," he said. "His skating is so superior to a lot of people."
Added former linemate, Pascal Dupuis, "He matured as a hockey player, matured as a person and it shows on the ice."
Crosby picked up his third goal of the season to give Pittsburgh a 2-0 lead at 7:44 of the first period after diving for the rebound off a Kris Letang point shot.
Then at 17:46 of the opening period, Crosby put a puck on net that was redirected in by Chris Kunitz for the eventual game-winner.
"A lot of times you play well in the first period and you're tied," said Crosby. "It's the reality sometimes. So it's nice to get rewarded for those starts.
"We had a good lesson there last game. We ended up blowing a 3-0 lead (against Anaheim) and they tied it up so I thought we handled it a lot better."
In the second period the 27-year-old completed his three-point outing when he assisted on Evgeni Malkin's first goal of the season to put Pittsburgh ahead 4-1.
Crosby isn't only getting used to a new coaching system this season, but a new linemate as well. Patric Hornqvist joined the Penguins' top line with Crosby and Kunitz— replacing Dupuis — and through two games the line has combined for six goals and 12 points.
Hornqvist was acquired, along with Nick Spaling, from the Nashville Predators for James Neal in June.
"It's really fun... (Hornqvist) competes hard, goes to the net hard," said Crosby. "He's got a great shot so I think between the three of us we try to dig loose pucks out, go to the net and generate chances."
The Penguins will spend Sunday in Toronto before heading home to Pittsburgh Monday. They'll look to improve to 3-0-0 Thursday when they host the Dallas Stars.